Nigerian musician and activist Folarin “Falz” Falana is calling on the Nigerian government to act quickly on the demands of protesters as anti-police demonstrations continue for the thirteenth consecutive day.
On Sunday, Senate President Ahmed Lawal called for an end to protests, saying the country could descend into anarchy.
“I’m trying my best not to get angry,” Falz said in an interview with ARISE News. “It’s extremely infuriating when we see statements like that, telling protesters not to protest. How about we tell the government to act on what we’re asking for?”
Between January 2017 and May 2020, Amnesty International recorded at least 82 cases of “torture, ill treatment and extra-judicial execution” at the hands of SARS agents. Since the protests began, more than 10 people have lost their lives as a result of police brutality.
“No one has been arraigned. Justice has not been done but people’s lives have been lost. People have died as a result of these disgusting violations of our human rights and you’re telling people to stop protesting? Why would they get off the streets?”
“I will never tell anyone to get off the streets if I see that justice has not been done,” the singer said.
The Lagos state government on Monday inaugurated a judicial panel to investigate allegations of police brutality. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu called it the “first step in a long line of reformative actions that’ll lead to a thorough revamp & reorientation of the Nigerian police.”
Falz called for young people to be included in the panel but admitted it was “a step in the right direction.”
“But it’s very important that the youth are represented in this panel…because we have to monitor proceedings. We have to supervise what’s going on there,” Falz said.
“Everything has to be broadcast live. Let us be sure that there’s transparency. Let us be sure that everybody is held accountable for their actions.”
Since the protests erupted early October, the entertainer has been one of the many young famous faces lending their voices to support the movement. He’s been extremely vocal on social media, and has been out on the streets of Lagos protesting. But, amid calls for the establishment of a leadership structure, Falz and other young protesters are keen to let the government know that there is no leader or monopoly over who is leading the charge.
“The youth have come together and the youth have said we don’t have one leader. We don’t have one person you can sit on a table and negotiate with. But our demands are clear.”
“I’m not the leader,” Falz said in response to early calls for him join a judicial panel. “You can’t contact me and tell me to negotiate with some people when everybody know our demands were publicly published.”
To date, the #EndSARS movement is the largest organization that has been carried out in Nigeria in recent years. Protesters have blocked major roads leading to airports in major cities including Lagos and the capital Abuja, and everyday activities have grinded to a halt in some areas. Some critics have condemned the persistence of the protesters despite the government conceding to some of their demands.
“Why should business carry on as usual? What is traffic to the man who has lost his child as a result of police brutality? If you want these people off the streets, conduct these trials,” Falz said.
“All we’re asking for is that justice be done.”